By Kenneth Jukpor
The Director General of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) Dr. Dakuku Peterside has made bold claims that Nigeria could emerge the topmost African nation in terms of maritime administration and shipping in the near future.
Dr. Dakuku made this claim while speaking at the 70th anniversary of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) which held at Eko hotel in Lagos, yesterday.
The NIMASA boss noted that the event provided Nigeria an opportunity to deliberate on the challenges facing maritime transport and proffer solutions in order to maintain a sustainable growth for the sector and the nation at large.
He also highlighted maritime safety and security as two important factors that would contribute to the growth of the industry.
“Under our watch in NIMASA, the agency has taken up some change in policy and introduced incentives to not only ensure that the maritime sector contributes significantly to the nation’s coffers but to also serve as the catalyst for the country’s march towards industrialization and economic prosperity” he said.
Meanwhile, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr. Boss Mustapha as the chairman of the occasion, raised some pertinent questions as he pondered the way forward for sustainable growth of maritime transport.
“After 70 years of global maritime community under the MO regime, can Nigeria be said to have maximized her maritime potentials? Has the country and its citizens reaped the gains of its maritime resources with positive indices on economic development? Are efforts being made to harness the blue economy prospects in achieving economic diversification for Nigeria?” he asked.
Boss, who was represented by the Minister of State for Power, Works and Housing, Hon. Mustapha Baba Shehuri also asked, “Have the IMO instruments been adequately utilized in bringing about safety and security of the waterways within Nigeria’s territorial waters? For me, these are the issues that we must confront with facts and figures if Nigeria hopes to retain its relevance and dominance as a regional maritime hub”.
Boss expressed optimism on the future of the nation’s maritime sector noting that his worries were mitigated when he considered that “Nigeria is endowed with knowledgeable industry players who are adequately equipped in the diverse industry-related services such as seafaring, maritime law, maritime administration and maritime education, among others to provide the requisite professional and technical support necessary to reposition the industry”
According to him, the various reforms being implemented in the maritime industry including the Academic/Institutional reforms at the Maritime Academy of Nigeria (MAN) Oron, proves that the annual World Maritime Day celebration is stimulating the requisite to change in policy direction that would bring about the desired transformation.
Also speaking at the event, the Minister of Transportation, Hon. Rotimi Amaechi noted that the theme of the event, “Our Heritage: Better Shipping for a Better Future” was apt as it provided an opportunity to ask crucial questions in the sector and address the multiple challenges.
Amaechi who was represented by the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Transportation, Alhaji Sabiu Zakari stressed that it was important for the country to harness its maritime potentials as 90% of the world’s cargo is carried by sea and the country was geographical positioned to be a hub of shipping in Africa.
“Shipping is the most cost-effective mode of moving goods around the world and Nigeria enjoys a larger share in the movement of those cargoes due to its location along the Gulf of Guinea (GoG) which is a transit and strategic route in the movement of cargoes across Africa” he said.
He highlighted the bad roads leading to ports as the biggest challenge to the efficient operation of maritime activities in the country and implored the government to correct the unfortunate trend.